God’s Silence— Then What?

When He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was —John 11:6

Has God trusted you with His silence— a silence that has great meaning? God’s silences are actually His answers. Just think of those days of absolute silence in the home at Bethany! Is there anything comparable to those days in your life? Can God trust you like that, or are you still asking Him for a visible answer? God will give you the very blessings you ask if you refuse to go any further without them, but His silence is the sign that He is bringing you into an even more wonderful understanding of Himself. Are you mourning before God because you have not had an audible response? When you cannot hear God, you will find that He has trusted you in the most intimate way possible— with absolute silence, not a silence of despair, but one of pleasure, because He saw that you could withstand an even bigger revelation. If God has given you a silence, then praise Him— He is bringing you into the mainstream of His purposes. The actual evidence of the answer in time is simply a matter of God’s sovereignty. Time is nothing to God. For a while you may have said, “I asked God to give me bread, but He gave me a stone instead” (see Matthew 7:9). He did not give you a stone, and today you find that He gave you the “bread of life” (John 6:35).

A wonderful thing about God’s silence is that His stillness is contagious— it gets into you, causing you to become perfectly confident so that you can honestly say, “I know that God has heard me.” His silence is the very proof that He has. As long as you have the idea that God will always bless you in answer to prayer, He will do it, but He will never give you the grace of His silence. If Jesus Christ is bringing you into the understanding that prayer is for the glorifying of His Father, then He will give you the first sign of His intimacy— silence.

By Oswald Chambers

Things Made New

flying bird
God never fails to reveal Himself to us in new and exciting ways. We just need to know where to look.

Down on the corner, out in the street, Willy and the Poor Boys are playing. Bring a nickel; tap your feet.

To me, they were just song lyrics. But to my husband, the words were a revelation. After I’d finished singing the chorus to the Creedence Clearwater Revival classic, he shouted, “Is that what they’re saying?”

We joke that he has a condition called “chronic lyricosis” because he constantly mishears song lyrics. So I now serve as his personal Rosetta Stone, deciphering what was once unintelligible, matching words to notes, and helping him learn tunes all over again.

I think faith works much the same way. We can’t fully comprehend concepts like the Trinity, or we overthink something as breathtakingly simple as grace, so we bumble through life only half understanding exactly what we believe. But there are moments when we engage our faith in ways foreign or familiar and something clicks. Clarity cuts through the gray haze of confusion, and God reveals His glory once again.

Just such a thing happened to me when I read “Easter Wings” by George Herbert. I’d analyzed, taught, and shared the poem countless times, but when I was willing to read it with spiritual eyes as well as analytical ones, I saw something I had previously missed.

The poem reads:

Lord, who createdst man in wealth and store,

Though foolishly he lost the same,

Decaying more and more,

Till he became

Most poore:

With thee

O let me rise

As larks, harmoniously,

And sing this day thy victories:

Then shall the fall further the flight in me.

My tender age in sorrow did beginne

And still with sicknesses and shame

Thou didst so punish sinne,

That I became

Most thinne.

With thee

Let me combine,

And feel thy victorie;

For, if I imp my wing on thine,

Affliction shall advance the flight in me.

It’s easy to get caught up in the winged shape of this poem and lose the treasure hidden in its structure. Herbert makes use of a rhetorical device called chiasmus (from the Greek letter Chi, which is represented by an X). It is a figure of speech in which two clauses are related to each other through reversal. It may sound complicated, but you’re already familiar with one key example: Matthew 19:30 says, “But many who are first will be last; and the last, first.” See the reversal Jesus speaks of? Crisscross. Reversal. One thing becomes the other in God’s kingdom. That’s chiasmus.

Things Made New

In “Easter Wings,” Herbert highlights the difference between man and God, temporal and eternal, fallible and perfect. In the first five lines of each stanza, man is foolishly working in his own strength and becomes “most poore” and “most thinne” for his efforts. Even the shape of the poem reflects this change—notice how each line gets shorter and less substantial as man “decays” and falls from God.

But two words change everything: “with thee.” Those are the words I’d glossed over before, and understanding them made all the difference. They reminded me that we are never too far gone to be restored.

In the final five lines of each stanza, after God is invoked, His surpassing greatness is on display. Rather than shrink, each line gets longer and more expansive. Harmony is restored, victory is attained, and the speaker once again can soar.

In these lines, Herbert echoes the apostle Paul’s statement, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). He tells us we can overcome every obstacle, even our wretched, foolish selves, when we imp (“repair”) our broken wings by leaning on the Almighty’s.

Every time I read this poem, I’m reminded of two things. One, that words matter—regardless of how little they seem. And two, that with God, I am “free indeed” (John 8:36). Christ’s sacrifice, His brokenness, made my redemption possible. Because of His work on the cross, my story and yours became examples of divine chiasmus—of Christ’s ability to restore us all to God.

by Jamie A. Hughes

Wisdom of God

“And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had judged; and they feared the king: for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him, to do judgment.” (1 Kings 3:28)

Although God’s wisdom is expounded in depth in the Scriptures, there are only seven times that the specific phrase “the wisdom of God” is used as such. The above text is indicating that God’s wisdom can actually be manifested in men through divine inspiration. The Persian king recognized this also in Ezra. “And thou, Ezra, after the wisdom of thy God, that is in thine hand, set magistrates and judges . . . all such as know the laws of thy God; and teach ye them that know them not” (Ezra 7:25). The wisdom of God thus is always consistent with the laws of God—that is, with the Scriptures.

The first New Testament reference is from Christ. “Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles” (Luke 11:49). Here the Lord is applying a scriptural principle from 2 Chronicles 36:15-16, in effect calling the Scriptures themselves “the wisdom of God.”

Then Paul three times uses the same phrase: “In the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God.” Human wisdom can never, by itself, discover God, but this very fact is bound up in the divine wisdom, revealed only through the Word of God. “We preach . . . Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” That is, through both the written word and the living Word, we can proclaim true wisdom. “We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery . . . which God ordained before the world unto our glory” (1 Corinthians 1:21, 23-24; 2:7).

Finally, with God’s wisdom manifested through chosen men of God, we also can preach true wisdom in Christ, “to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God” (Ephesians 3:10). HMM

Ye said also Behold, what a weariness is it

Ye said also Behold, what a weariness is it.—Malachi 1:13.
My soul cleaveth unto the dust; quicken Thou me according to Thy word.—Psalm 119:25.
Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead and Christ shall give thee light.—Ephesians 5:14.

THERE are some who give up their prayers because they have so little feeling in their prayers—so little warmth of feeling. But who told us that feeling was to be a test of prayer? The work of prayer is a far too noble and necessary work to be laid aside for any lack of feeling. Press on, you who are dry and cold in your prayers press on as a work and as a duty, and the Holy Spirit will, in His good time, refresh your prayers Himself. ARTHUR F. WINNINGTON INGRAM.

You do not feel in the spirit of prayer; you have no spiritual uplift; you are simply indifferent. Give that unhappy mood no heed. You know very well what you ought to do. You ought to; present yourself before God; you ought to say your prayers. Do that, and the devout attitude, the bended knees, the folded hands, the quiet and the silence, the lips busied with holy words, will induce the consciousness of the divine presence, and help you to pray in spirit and in truth. GEORGE HODGES.

Thy kingdom come

Thy kingdom come. Matthew 6:10

In the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. — A stone … cut out without hands. — Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the LORD of hosts. — The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God. So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; and should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.

Be ye … ready: for in such an hour as ye think not, the Son of man cometh.

The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come.

Daniel 2:44. Daniel 2:34. Zechariah 4:6. Luke 17:20,21. Mark 4:11,26,27,29. Matthew 24:44. Revelation 22:17.

God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them

God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them. 2 Corinthians 5:19

It pleased the Father, that in him should all fulness dwell; and, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself. — Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil. — Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity?

Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace. — Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. — LORD, thou wilt ordain peace for us: for thou also hast wrought all our works in us.

Colossians 1:19,20. Psalm 85:10. Jeremiah 29:11. Isaiah 1:18. Micah 7:18. Job 22:21. Philippians 2:12,13. Isaiah 26:12.